Gender equality in sports took a happy step forward on the local baseball field this season as the Menlo Atherton Little League put together an all-girls team for the first time ever.
Although girls have been allowed to play on a team in the past, a group of MA Little League leaders of the Coach Pitch/TBall Division decided the time was right to try giving girls a team of their own — and judging by the enthusiastic response of the girls and their coaches, the trial was a notable success.
"The season has honestly exceeded all expectations," Coach Pat Kelly says.
The team, the Rockies, is made up of 11 girls ages 6 and 7, who practiced weekly during the 2018-19 season at Encinal School, according to Coach Pitch/TBall Division Commissioner Scott Retchless. The girls, he says, "did great."
Kelly, who is assisted in coaching the team by Kim Yaeger and Krista Rosa, explains that the team was assembled after some Little League parents and coaches "realized that a number of girls wanted to play baseball, but it might be less fun for them if they were the only girl on a team. So we thought, why not try to put together a team of all girls to play together? We sent around some inquiries to some of the girls' friends' parents to see if there were nine to 12 girls who were interested."
The response was encouraging. "With the help of the league — Brian Roberts, Ellen Long and Scott Retchless — we were able to add any other girl who had registered for the coach pitch division (except for one)," Kelly says. "With that, the Rockies were born."
Kelly says that he has taken on coaching roles with Little League for about eight years, and coaching the girls' team "has been the most enjoyable experience. The girls are coachable, engaged, spirited and, most importantly, I think they are all having a ton of fun and learning some baseball."
Fun, with no tears, he notes. "At no point in the season have any of the coaches needed to use Tom Hanks's line from 'A League of their Own,': There's no crying in baseball," Kelly says. And the girls are eager to shine: "Everyone wants to play the position that gets all the action — pitcher," he says.
It appears that the Rockies will be around for a while, with all 11 girls wanting to come back next year and play again, Kelly says.
It has been refreshing, he says, "to see the other teams not think anything is abnormal about playing a team of girls. They are all friends from school, know a bunch of the other players and just like playing baseball."